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Bill Koppos
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The wait is over for Bill Koppos’s Third-favorite model…..

February 23, 2013 · in Aviation · · 7 · 1.5K

of all far. I never said it had to be one of my best models, just a favorite. The happens to be my favorite airplane so it's appropriate. It is the first model since my return to the hobby I considered "pretty good" and just always go back and look at her, even tho it's loaded with imperfections. Years ago I bought one of those "coffee table" books they sell at the big Bookstores, this one was on Pacific Air Combat, the exact title escapes me now. In it was a story by US Army pilot Dick Vodra of the 49th Fighter Group describing his harrowing combat over Oro Bay New Guinea in 1943. The things these guys faced back then! He describes the worn-out P-40E's they were coaxing into the air, still flying against some of Japan's best. Also in this tome was a picture of "Scatter Brain", a P-40E (supposedly) that had recently knocked down an enemy so close that the entire forward end was covered in the victim's oil. The ground crew was busily re-arming it and wiping the mess from the windscreen. I mentally made a note, somehowI HAD to do this one!

Then at a show I found an old Superscale sheet of the 49th FG, and there it was, "Scatter-Brain'. (And here I thought those Bubble-letters were a sixties, Peter Max thing). Right around that time Amtech released their repop of the old AMT-Ertl P-40E, so off we went. This was only my 4th or 5th model in my new career, and out of the box it was not. Being a P-40 "expert", I found lotsa problems with that Amtech kit. I tried to fix some of them-the square P-40N seat was rounded out, some interior detail added, resin tires used, ("Scatter-Brain" obviously had diamond-tread tyres) and the chunky Ertl canopy replaced with a Squadron vac unit. I even drilled holes in the instrument panel to fit Vodra's statement about saving weight by removing "useless" instruments. It got my first photo-etch, a ring and bead gunsight set. I rebuilt the ridiculous AMT landing gear struts and added my first brake lines. Whew!

When she was done I was proud as punch. What a beauty. Could not figure why the judges never thought so. Anyway ,she's beautiful to me. In the interim I have deduced "Scatter Brain" was undoubtedly a "K' model P-40 with those fishtail exhausts and diamond tires. Careful study of the picture shows she had mismatched tires, and I know the antenna is wrong. Us experts learn all the time. Maybe I'll do another sometime (I have another decal sheet, in fact I have huge numbers of P-40 sheets), based on the oh so much better . But for now she's right there among my faves. I'll call it number 3.

Reader reactions:
1  Awesome

8 additional images. Click to enlarge.

7 responses

  1. Nice work, Bill. Good to see where you have come from in the hobby.

  2. oh the anticipation... come on bill give us #2! lol

  3. Yes, I too am waiting with baited breath for the next installment of, "Bill Koppos/' Favorite Models..." 🙂
    Actually I remember back when you started coming around to the Suffolk Club, and I remember you bringing 'Scatterbrain' along. Been a lot of fun since.

  4. Here's a link to the "Scatterbrain"mage that started it all...
    Worth a look, one cool pic...note the mismatch tires in #2

  5. Bill, I wanted to thank you for both the beautiful model and the image. My Dad, Edward Zimmer, was an armorer assigned to the Screamin' Demons in New Guinea; 30-mile, Dobodura, Gusap, Finschaven IIRC. He mentioned Tsili Tsili but I don't know if he was there. In that picture I believe he's the fellow wiping down the can see how he's keeping an eye on the reload. A bit of background: Dad was with the ill-fated 33rd Pursuit (Provisional) at Darwin 12 Feb '42. Now we have an aircraft and a pilot. Thanks again.

    • Jody that is amazing info. The stories of the early P-40 squadrons has always been of great interest to me, especially the hard-luck provisional squadrons trying to get to Java, of which the 33rd was one. How those boys got the bad end of the stick! "Doomed at The Start" and "Everyday a Nightmare" by William Barstch are two really good books on the subject, if you haven't seen them already.
      Are the pics in the link fuzzy to you? They are now, but did not used to be.

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